Can laptops cause cancer?

Avoid health risks from smartphones, notebooks & tablet PCs

Franklin Tessler

Smartphones, tablets and notebooks can cause serious health problems. We'll show you how you can still stay healthy.

Spend just five minutes at a busy intersection and you will meet them: people who use their tablet or smartphone in such a way that they put themselves in danger. For example, those who use their smartphones at the wheel of a car. But distraction while driving is by no means the only danger lurking behind the use of smartphones, tablets and the like. Less dramatic but no less dangerous are the risks that most users don't even know exist. Ergonomic risks, for example, are not new to computer users. Notebooks, on the other hand, which have overtaken the desktop PC in terms of sales figures, harbor their very own health risks. And touchscreens also pose health risks.

Advice: health tips for geeks

Health risks for PCs, notebooks, tablets

Medical experts have identified three categories of computer-based diseases that apply to the use of traditional desktop PCs as well as to the newer, mobile touchscreen devices:

Injuries from repetitive movements

This disease is also known as RSI: Repetitive Stress Injuries. RSI results from repetitive large and small movements that stress joints, muscles, tendons and nerves. People who regularly do both of them Using the thumb to type text messages on a smartphone sometimes develops Quervain syndrome - a painful disease that affects the tendons that move the thumb.

Illnesses due to unnatural posture and the use of force

These disorders occur when people use their bodies in ways that cause physical stress - such as twisting and tilting their wrists abnormally while typing, or tensing them too tightly. Carpal tunnel syndrome - probably the best-known clinical picture in this category - is caused, for example, by excessive, long-lasting pressure on the median nerve in the wrist.

Eye diseases

Anyone struggling to decipher text on a screen - be it because the font is too small, or because reflections or the like make it difficult to see - risks eye problems that range from annoying and annoying to incapacity for work. The symptoms, often summarized as "Computer Vision Syndrome", include eye pain and redness, clouded or double vision, and headaches.

Many people are also concerned about the radiation emitted by old CRT monitors as well as smartphones, tablets and WiFi devices. So far, however, research has provided contradicting results. It seems, however, that the risk is small if you follow the manufacturer's guidelines for the safe use of the device.

Touchscreens and notebooks pose new risks

Thanks to various health organizations and awareness-raising strategies, many people today are more familiar with the options for protecting themselves from certain risks than they were 10 or 15 years ago. Sellers of computers, peripheral devices and office furniture particularly emphasize the ergonomic advantages of their products, and manuals and operating instructions provide information on how to work with the product safely and in a health-friendly manner. Unfortunately, awareness of the risks and dangers that one is familiar with in the PC field has not yet really penetrated into the realm of newer touchscreen devices and notebooks. We want to show them to you below:

Health risks associated with notebook use

For years, notebook users were forced to forego performance in favor of lighter weight. In the meantime, however, notebooks sometimes even outperform desktop PCs in terms of speed and storage space. For this reason, notebooks often fulfill both purposes: Working on the go and at home, or in the office and at work. Unfortunately, their design limits the notebooks quite a bit from an ergonomic point of view. For example, because the screen and keyboard stick together, you cannot position them optimally for your needs.

Sitting perfectly in front of the notebook

As a replacement for a desktop PC and longer working hours on the laptop, you should therefore think about an external monitor. You can position the keyboard of your notebook at desktop PC height - so that your elbows are at a 90-degree angle on the desk - and at the same time align the screen at eye level. If this is too expensive for you, get a raised stand for your laptop screen and a separate keyboard. Then align both in exactly the same way as described above.

Use external keyboard for notebook

Notebooks are even more dangerous if you use them in comfortable or unfamiliar places, for example at a guest desk in the office or at the desk in a hotel room. There it is all the more difficult to find a position that is gentle on the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands. If you do a lot of work on the go, it is best to always carry a lightweight external keyboard and mouse with you. And give the laptop an elevated working position with a book or a similar aid placed underneath.

Using notebook in bed

If you insist on using your laptop in bed or on the sofa while watching TV, at least resist the temptation to lie on your side and support your head with one arm: it damages your neck and makes it almost impossible to get in a reasonably natural position to use the keyboard. In bed you should sit with your back upright, supported by a firm pillow. Also stuff another pillow under your knees and align the screen of your laptop so that any light sources behind you are not reflected by the display. Even if you take these precautions, you should not use your laptop in such positions for more than 5 to 10 minutes at a time without taking a break. If you have to work on your laptop for more than half an hour, it is better to switch to a desk - even if it seems less cozy and comfortable.

Health risks from smartphones and tablets

Where notebooks already seduce people into using them in the most impossible places, smartphones and tablets go one better. Because they can actually be used anywhere and in almost any posture - most of which are not necessarily health-promoting. Your neck and cervical spine are extremely sensitive to poor posture. In the long run this can also lead to bruises or overstretching of the nerve tracts that run through the spinal cord. Avoid supposedly beneficial stretching of the head forwards or backwards, as well as turning and tilting to the right and left sides. Instead, take regular breaks from working at the screen. If you feel pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation, stop what you are doing immediately and return to a more comfortable position.